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VPNgate Review & Test (2023) - Free, but not worth the risk

Author Image Kristina Perunicic
Kristina Perunicic | Updated on 18th January 2023 Managing Editor

Located in the National University of Tsukuba (Japan), VPN-Gate is an academic research project designed to study the distribution of public VPN relay servers globally. Having begun their operations in 2013, they claim their service can break through most firewalls and have more advantages than traditional VPN providers. So, if they’re not a bog-standard VPN provider, what attributes do they have that make them distinct from the rest?

VPN-Gate has one huge advantage in that it does work with Netflix, including Netflix US. Although, this usually depends on the sever as weren't able to access Netflix on every US server. For greater reliability with Netflix, I'd recommend one of these leading vendors.

They are kept alive by volunteers rather than relying on paid users. Volunteers are not only located in Tsukuba but internet users around the world who host their own relay server by supplying their ISP bandwidth and CPU power. Other users around the world can then connect to one of these IP addresses to access the web and benefit from all the positive functions that a VPN can offer: unblock restricted content, surf anonymously and maintain privacy. Volunteers come and go on a frequent basis, so the range of IP addresses change regularly which has the advantage of offering users a wider range of servers based in various locations around the globe.

Unblocking restricted content in your geographical area is another incentive with VPN-Gate.
Firewalls are known to purposefully blacklist a whole range of IP addresses in an attempt to thwart users accessing certain content but with VPN-Gate’s continually changing pool of servers to choose from and dynamic (frequently changing) IP addresses, this could be particularly useful tool to burst through most firewalls. Many commercial VPN services provide static IP addresses and often have a limited amount of servers which can hinder the ability to burst through Firewalls, so VPN-Gate may very well live up to their claim of being to able to overcome this obstacle.

Servers are typically based in the Asian continent, such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand, with other volunteers offering servers in Europe, the Middle East, as well as North and South America. A real time list of available servers are provided on their main website, followed by the instructions on how to connect. So, users can hide their true IP address and access foreign content – whether it’s controversial news websites or even streaming services like Netflix, Spotify or YouTube.

It’s a totally free service to use with no registration required and works on Windows, Macs, iOS and Androids. All of the common protocols are used: L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSL-VPN (SoftEther VPN) and Microsoft SSTP protocol, which significantly augments the potential to break through firewalls such as Great Firewall of China or even simply get around blocks created by Universities or Colleges.

VPN-Gate can certainly become a useful tool to have while surfing public WiFi hotspots, which are notorious targets for hackers, snoopers and criminals who want to intercept unencrypted traffic from unsuspecting surfers. By connecting to VPN-Gate you’ll shield yourself from eavesdropping as traffic will be encrypted making it nearly impossible for an attacker to sift through your data.

There is no native software for any device but VPN-Gate does supply setup guides for each device depending on which protocol you wish to use. To get going, you’ll either need third-party software such as Tunnelblick for the Mac, SoftEther VPN Client for Windows, or in some cases manually configuring your network settings is required.

Unfortunately, they do collect user data logs which is a huge blow for those seeking to surf anonymously. This is often the case with free VPN services, however there are plenty of paid options out there to solve this dilemma.

In terms of reliability this VPN is perhaps a more volatile and risky option compared to commercially established providers who run a business supported by paid users, not volunteers. Why is this? Only the good nature of the volunteers is what keeps this service alive, and also the willpower of its owners who at any time could decide to abruptly discontinue operations. After all, this was merely a research project, with no obligation to its foreign users, and has stated an intention to only last a few more years.

Whether this VPN appeals to you will depend on your internet activities. VPN-Gate does have drawbacks for their users by collecting logs and there’s also no real guarantee that this service will continue as it’s solely relying on volunteers for its upkeep. However, if you’re simply in need of a tool to unblock specific (perhaps not too private) websites or services then the abundance of server choices and varying protocols make VPN-Gate a worthy option.

As with all free vendors, there's always compromises on what you can do or the level of security you receive. We're not sure VPN-Gate is worth the risk.

VPNgate Features — Updated in February 2023

💸 Price 0 USD/month
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
🖥 Number of servers 4683+
💻 Number of devices per license 1
🛡 Kill switch No
🗺 Based in country Japan
📥 Supports torrenting Yes


$ 0 / month per month
Compare VPNgate With The Top Alternative VPNs

The Bottom Line

Free service that really can unblock Netflix

For being a free service that's run entirely by volunteers around the world, VPN-Gate has a lot to offer. One of its greatest benefits is that it can break through Netflix's geoblocks. This is thanks to the help of volunteers and their servers in the US. The service can also help you bypass other firewalls, such as those at your university or the library.

Unfortunately, the VPN-Gate does maintain user records and logs, so if you were hoping for privacy, you're out of luck. This service is best used for non-private activities where you won't mind being tracked, such as streaming TV or unblocking geo-restricted news sites.

  • Totally free to use
  • Break through firewalls with ease
  • Wide choice of servers
  • Works on Windows,OSX and Android
  • Safe and secure surfing on WiFi hotspots
  • Setup guides available
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 0
Mobile app:
Number of devices per license: 1
VPNgate User Reviews (User reviews are not verified)
Based on 8 reviews in 3 languages
Write a Review on VPNgate

Please rate VPN.

Was good

It will no longer get past amazon prime Japan and Netflix Japan. All DNS hostnames end with opengw.net which is now easily blocked as of November 2021. I do not know why they did this but it is very disappointing.

The Wizards of VPN at Play

Works great for me, and I'm a complete novice. I installed VPNGate using SoftEther as it's client. The fact that it is an ongoing research project, hence free, is not a deterrent to me because it serves my specific needs well. If the developers/researchers on the VPNgate/Softether project should decide to discontinue the projects (they are both separate), then you'll always have the option to pay for a commercial VPN provider. I appreciate the time and effort the developers/researchers are putting into the development of these applications and the fact that they allow the international public-at-large access to it. Thank you for a great product.

No fuss Free VPN, that works!

A happy VPNgate user explained to me how to install it the first time. You need the ZIP package with the PlugIn VpnGatePlugin_x64.DLL & VpnGatePlugin_x86.DLL along with the vpngate-client.EXE the first time you install! Once you get the right package, it is easy to install & use :o) 1. Install SoftEther VPN Client with VPN Gate Client Plug-in (only once at the first time) Download the special version of SoftEther VPN Client which has the "VPN Gate Client Plug-in" . Extract contents of the downloaded ZIP file to a folder. As the above figure, a setup program and some DLL files are extracted. Execute the setup program which the filename begins with "vpngate-client-", and proceed with the installation. The setup will start as above. You have to choose "SoftEther VPN Client" in the "Select Software Components to Install" screen. After installation completed, an icon of SoftEther VPN Client will be created on the desktop. 2. Run VPN Gate Client Plug-in and connect to VPN Gate Server Double-click the SoftEther VPN Client icon on the desktop. As the above figure, "VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers" icon appears on the window. Double-click the icon. If some notifications are displayed, continue to proceed as the screen describes. The "VPN Gate Academic Experiment Project Plugin for SoftEther VPN Client" starts. In this screen you can see the list of currently running VPN Gate Public VPN Servers. This list on the screen is same as the list of the top page. Choose one from the list to connect, and click "Connect to the VPN Server" button. If the selected VPN Gate Server supports both TCP and UDP protocols, the above screen will appear. Choose either TCP or UDP on the screen. If a VPN connection will be established successfully, the above message will appear. This windows will disappear automatically in 5 seconds. If you failed to connect specified VPN server, try another.

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